Industry welcomes quarantine investment and National Cabinet focus on CBD reactivation
The Property Council of Australia has welcomed the outcomes of today’s National Cabinet meeting, including the announcement of Federal Government capital support for the Victorian Government’s planned quarantine facility and a renewed focus on the reactivation of Australia’s CBDs.
Melbourne quarantine facility MOU
A Memorandum of Understanding has been reached between the Federal and Victorian Governments to build a $200 million quarantine facility in Melbourne, based on the Howard Springs facility in the Northern Territory. Construction is expected to commence in September with the facility planned to have an eventual capacity of 3,000 beds.
Property Council Chief Executive, Ken Morrison, said the investment will not only provide a more secure quarantine system, but also enable an upscaling of Australia’s intake.
“Fortress Australia currently has a narrow rickety drawbridge. We need to construct higher capacity COVID safe entry points to Australia which give all Australians peace of mind,” Mr Morrison said.
“The Victorian facility presents a template that other jurisdictions could utilise to significantly upscale Australia’s quarantine capacity.”
The Property Council has warned that Australia’s restricted border is the biggest constraint on future prosperity, with last month’s Federal Budget revealing economic and employment growth expectations slowing over the forward estimates.
“It is pleasing to see governments agreeing on solutions that avoid Australia getting stuck in a binary choice between opened or closed borders,” Mr Morrison said.
“Industry would welcome consideration of other innovative solutions such as quarantining in student accommodation, home quarantine for returning Australians, and broader use of technology.”
The Property Council encouraged the Victorian and Federal Governments to work together to expedite the construction of the facility.
“Australia cannot afford to wait until 2022 for this boost to our quarantining capacity,” Mr Morrison said.
The Property Council has applauded the Prime Minister’s message to government and private sector employers that it is “time to get back to the office.”
The Property Council’s office occupancy survey has tracked the rate of occupancy of Australia’s capital city CBDs since the height of the COVID pandemic.
“The benefits of bustling CBDs are significant, not just for the small businesses that rely on city foot traffic, but for the broader Australian economy,” Property Council Chief Executive, Ken Morrison said.
“Melbourne and Sydney have been the cities hardest hit by the COVID disruption and further corporate and government leadership is needed to encourage workers back to the office to bolster this recovery.”
“Building owners and managers are not waiting for government leadership to drive CBD reactivation, we are proactively making the case for workers to return to their offices and reengage with all the benefits of face-to-face working.”
The Property Council has welcomed the National Cabinet’s referral of current office physical distancing guidance to the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee for review.
“We need to make sure that physical distancing guidance is clear and appropriate to the current risk profile and not creating an unnecessary or confusing hurdle to workers returning to full productivity,” Mr Morrison said.